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The Tarnished Angels (1957)

Not Rated | | Drama | 25 December 1957 (UK)
Story of a friendship between an eccentric journalist and a daredevil barnstorming pilot.

Director:

Douglas Sirk

Writers:

William Faulkner (novel), George Zuckerman (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rock Hudson ... Burke Devlin
Robert Stack ... Roger Shumann
Dorothy Malone ... LaVerne Shumann
Jack Carson ... Jiggs
Robert Middleton ... Matt Ord
Alan Reed ... Colonel Fineman
Alexander Lockwood Alexander Lockwood ... Sam Hagood
Christopher Olsen ... Jack Shumann (as Chris Olsen)
Robert J. Wilke ... Hank
Troy Donahue ... Frank Burnham
William Schallert ... Ted Baker
Betty Utey Betty Utey ... Dancing Girl
Phil Harvey ... Telegraph Editor
Steve Drexel Steve Drexel ... Young Man
Eugene Borden Eugene Borden ... Claude Mollet
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Storyline

In the 1930's, a First World War flying ace named Roger Schumann is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family are forced to live like dogs while Shumann pursues his only true love, the airplane. When Burke Devlin, a reporter, shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on Shumann, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances and, conversely, drawn to his stunning wife, LaVerne. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1957 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Pylon See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Rock Hudson insisted that Troy Donahue should be cast in the movie. See more »

Goofs

Despite the fact that the story is taking place in the early 1930s, all of Dorothy Malone's clothing, hairstyles and make-up are strictly 1957, the year the picture was filmed. See more »

Quotes

Ted Baker: On the level, what'd you do last night?
Burke Devlin: Nothing much:just sat up half the night discussing literature and life with a beautiful, half naked blonde.
Ted Baker: You better change bootleggers.
See more »

Connections

References The Final Chord (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

Old Folks at Home
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Blight Stuff
12 April 2003 | by PiafreduxSee all my reviews

Alone, during an all night boot camp fire midwatch in a huge, sepulchral building, at one o'clock in the morning I dared (had I gotten caught I'd have done a punishment tour at 'Happy Hour') to switch on the TV in the Master At Arms' office. On came the titles of 'The Tarnished Angels'.

I've been enthralled by it ever since.

It would be a revelation to get to see this film in CinemaScope, but it's one of those few films whose themes seem to be intensified by pan-and-scan: the characters' claustrophobic loneliness in a throng; the pressing anxiety of a child about his parentage; the narrowing, time-running-out bravado of the former war ace; the ache of the mechanic who can fix only aeroplanes but not his timorousness; the naked greed and lust of the depression mogul lucky to have been spared the worst of his era's depredations; the despair of the wife who followed a man and ended up jilted by his corpse, with no place to turn; and the outside-looking-in fascination, desolation, and crashed dreams of a reporter lying torpidly in a pond of bootleg hootch.

Atypical of director Sirk's opus 'The Tarnished Angels' shows his grasp of his medium in the haunting chiaroscuro of black & white, and in the edgy editing of the flying scenes that furnish the only relief from - or should that be masterful exacerbation of - the confining, torturous ties and jealousies, yearnings and flailings that bind the characters in existential angst.

Not much of a plot here, but the acting is to marvel at. Robert Stack's muscular, sexy, once-genuine hero turns to tin before your eyes. Dorothy Malone's aching milk-and-honey farm girl fecundity, horse-traded libido, and lovelessness struggle against the vast flush of the Depression's The Blight Stuff toilet in which her husband's sole skill is no life preserver for his family's plunge into life-and-death, give-and-give, take-and-take despair. Rock Hudson's goodhearted reporter, yearning to find some goodness in humankind, having his search thwarted by the grinder of want and need, loyalty and betrayal, helplessness and manipulation. The mogul frustrated because his only skill is heavy-handed buying and selling (played wonderfully by Robert Middleton - in a diabolical role that makes the bargain in 'Indecent Proposal' look frivolously angelic by comparison), whose physiognomy oozes reptilian menace that cloaks his unrelievable aching to possess one immutable, beautiful, worthy thing.

'The Tarnished Angels' left me feeling as wrung out as the overstressed airframes in its hell-for-leather air race scenes, and quite a bit more grown-up than I was before I'd seen its characters rooting round in the Depression gutters of abasement and debasement.

After my midwatch, near dawn, when I tumbled into my open-bay barracks rack, I couldn't sleep. I wished for an angel to hand me a tin of BrassO for my coming-of-age, tarnishing soul.


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